A case study of learning styles of Mexican-American college students
Johnson, Betty S
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Hispanics are the fastest growing population in the country today, and Mexican-Americans are the fastest growing Hispanic population. While Mexican-American youth are becoming a larger portion of the potential college pool, the percentage of Mexican-Americans actually attending college is decreasing. Even more alarming for those in higher education is the fact that of those Mexican-Americans who attend college, only a few persist to graduation. Institutions of higher education located in the states with a large Mexican-American population are faced with the problem of recruiting Mexican-American students and retaining them through graduation. The first step toward solving the problem may be for educators to gain an understanding of the culturally imposed needs of the Mexican-American learner. Twenty-five years of research on Mexican-American elementary and secondary students clearly establishes that their field-sensitive learning styles are a result of cultural practices. Socialization and child-rearing in the Mexican- American culture lead to a strong need for learning environments that are socially oriented. Although one might predict that this field-sensitive style will follow Mexican- American students into their college years, virtually no research on style has been conducted with Mexican-American college students serving as subjects. The purpose of this case study, therefore, is to identify and describe the learning preferences of a group of Mexican- American college students to determine if there is a commonality in their learning preferences. The assessment instrument used in the study is the Canfield Learning Style Inventory. The three research questions studied are: (1) Is there a commonality among Mexican-American college students in their preferences for conditions of learning? (2) Is there a commonality among Mexican-American college students in their preferences for course content? (3) Is there a commonality among Mexican-American college students in their preferences for mode of learning? The results of the study show a strong trend of the Mexican-American subjects toward a socially oriented style. The subjects show a strong preference for working with people in conditions of learning, strong preference for content that involves people, and a strong preference for listening, an activity that involves other people.